The motivation and drive for doing a battlefield tour can be varied and for many reasons, to visit the campaigns and battles of past family members; to pay respect to the deeds of past generations of soldiers and to look where your own regiment, or brigade, took part in key actions are some.
But, recently I had a most enjoyable battlefield tour to Normandy with Joe O’Carroll and his wife Colleen from South Africa. They simply wanted to understand what happened there and to help understand the soldiers who fought there.
‘I had read about Normandy and the D-Day Beaches, and while my own country of South Africa has little, if any commitment, to the Normandy campaign, it is part of World War Two that fascinates me’ said Joe. ‘It was amazing to now see the battlefield, and I now understand what happened so much more clearly’ he continued.
‘But without Matt, it would have been hard work to take so much in the short time we had available, my highlight was walking along Sword Beach and pausing to try and imagine what it must have been like on that June morning some many years ago’
‘Since my return home, I have rethought so many aspects of what I saw in Normandy with Matt, and there are a few aspects that trouble me because I was so ignorant I never expected them. The first was the emotions I felt and after seeing the ground, what people made like CSM Stanley Hollis did all the more real and understandable’
‘My wonder and awe still remains at the unbelievable scale of things Matt is able to convey, from the numbers involved to the distances between action. I have always believed the people involved had an attitude vastly different from what prevails today, and one that I admire greatly, and Matt enabled me to get a better grasp on that extraordinary fortitude that Brits seem to conjure up in times of great trouble’
‘In summary, the service that Matt offers is quite amazing, he delivers each tour for the individual and nothing is too much trouble, I have spoken to him since getting back to South Africa to tell him I will be back, but this time to The Somme and the South African Battle of Delville Wood in World War One’
Needless to say, I am looking forward to welcoming Joe & Colleen back and joining their company as we again walk the battlefield of France.